Extracts from The Diaries of 'Professor' Cornelius Crane

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April 5th, 1969

I was passing the pawn shop today and my eye again caught the music box in the window. I went inside to take a closer look.

It was marked $50.

No wonder Hannah had said it would take some time to save up the money to buy it.

I had turned to the Jimmy Durante clone behind the counter and blurted, “Fifty dollars? For this? Don’t you think that’s a bit steep?”

“Take it or leave it, sonny.” His nose was large, red and seemed to be polished. He tapped his finger against the side of it and quipped, “It’s no skin off my nose.”

I decided to take a gander around the shop. Maybe there were some items of value, that were priced cheaply, but of which he was not aware. Something only a time traveler would know about. But after seeing the ridiculous price of the music box, I seriously doubted that there would be any stray bargains at all lying about.

There was a box of old spectacles lying between a stack of large, dusty, decorative, Delftware plates and a heap of even dustier National Geographics.

I suddenly had an idea. It wasn’t a great scheme, but at least it was something.

On the wall, behind the box was a large old picture frame with an image depicting a bunch of dogs playing poker on train. I used the reflection in the glass to find the perfect pair. The lenses were slightly thick and made my eyes appear larger.

“Ten dollars?” I complained loudly. “That’s a rip-off! Fu…flipping daylight robbery.”

“Take ‘em or leave ‘em, sonny.” He tapped his finger against the side of his nose.

With the prices he charged, I got the impression that his enormous schnoz had become that way from constantly having to do that same action all day long with every single customer.

I removed a $10 bill from the secret hiding place in my shoe. I unfurled it and handed it to him.

He jabbed at the large cash register. A small token marked 10.00 popped up in the glassed portion at the top. After another jab, the bottom slid open with a ding.

I was at the door when he called after me, “What do you need ‘em for?”

“Our school’s doing a pageant about famous past American presidents!”

“Yeah? Which one are you?”

“See if you can guess,” I said putting them on and assuming a haughty appearance.

“Harry S. Truman?”

“Right!” I said pointing a finger at him.

“See, worth every dollar!”

“Harry S. Truman, 33rd President. Do you know what the S stands for?”

He took a shot. “Stephen?” I shook my head. “Samuel?”

“Nah! The S stands for S.”

“His middle name was S?”

“Yeah, ain’t that crazy? His mother and father both had middle names for him that started with S, and when they couldn’t agree on which one to use they just decided to leave it as S.”

“That is crazy.”


“Well, you taught this old codger something new. Actually you look like another Harry.”


“Harold Lloyd.”

We both laughed. “That’s great, because I always thought they kinda looked very similar.” We laughed even louder.

“See! You got two famous people for the price of one set of spectacles. I told you they were worth every dollar!”

“That remains to be seen,” I said loudly walking out the door. Then I softly repeated to myself, “That remains to be seen.”

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